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Updated: April 12, 2014 15:22 IST
Tongue In Cheek

Lotions and potions

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Illustration: Satwik Gade
Illustration: Satwik Gade

On the perils of navigating a friendly neighbourhood cosmetic store.

Here’s an intriguing question: which sane woman would voluntarily walk into a place, be subjected to a round of insults, and then quietly leave — after giving the insulters a lot of money?

That would be me. And, I suspect, you too.

I’m talking about those new-age cosmetic stores of course. (In a list of top five self-immolation techniques, visiting a cosmetic store will definitely figure for us ladies.)

I popped into a glitzy shop the other day to buy a tiny stone to rub my feet with. A stone picked up free from the roadside may have done the job just as well, but I felt compelled to pay Rs. 120 for a branded pumice stone, which even had a lovely name: “Princess Feet”.

I was heading off to the billing counter with my fancily packaged rock, when The Attackers started closing in.

Each was a petite Miss, dressed in a black uniform, hair pulled back in a neat net, trained to attack different parts of my body in a clever pre-rehearsed war manoeuvre.

The first looked directly into my eyes. Or rather, the skin surrounding my eyes. “Hello, Ma’am. Are you looking for something for that severe condition of damaged derma around your eyes?” The sales girl’s neatly plucked eyebrows arched itself into a mix of alarm and empathy.

“Er … no. I mean, yes of course, that’s why I’m here, hmmm, is it really so bad?” I said, my hands flying to my face in dismay.

A round mirror magnified my face to the size of the moon, craters and all. “Well, Ma’am, your skin here has aged drastically and these dark rings are a clear indication of a malfunction of capillaries and you need these two jars of emergency repair treatment on alternative nights…”

I was ready to pluck my eyes out right there and admit them into the Intensive Care Unit for a week.

So I meekly said yes to two tiny jars of a miracle cure called “Rejuven-Eyes”, plus a thoughtful travel-pack tube too — all of which cost slightly less than a cataract surgery. I tried to collect my branded pumice stone, and rush out but Killer Shop Lady Two moved into frame. She’d spotted my death-bed hair, of course. “Ma’am, have you seen this new range of Hair-Distress Rescue treatment? I notice your hair has lost all energy and there’s indication of scalp psoriasis.”

The thud that I heard next could have been the sound of my falling hair. But it was actually the sound of three jars being firmly thumped on the counter. “Here, Ma’am. These will help before it’s too late.” Why three jars, I wondered uneasily. But it was very logical. The first was a Palliative Primer to ‘prepare’ my scalp so that it could warmly and graciously receive the contents of Jar Two, the Follicle Facilitator. And the third was Moisture Manager that would hydrate my entire head from within, when a new crop appeared in spring.

I meekly bought all three of course. Who was I to split hairs when it came to expert advice? Anyway, I dodged past the hair dyes section and tried to make a clean dash to the exit but fell victim to the one word that has led me to the greatest extravagances: “FREE”!

Wow! Free manicures and nail painting! Today Only!

What a chance to make up for all that wild spending so far…

“Hello, Ma’am! Come, sit down and relax. Today is World Manicure Day, so we’re giving you this treat absolutely free!”

And then she gently broke the news during the pre-primer cuticle massage. My nails were dead. (Scientifically speaking, I thought they were supposed to be dead cells or something anyway…)

But my professional Nail Beautologist seemed to be a part-time GP too. “Oh no, I see slight yellowing, but only in your right hand. This indicates a respiratory disease. Do see your doctor at once.” This affected my breathing immediately, but I didn’t dare tell her it could be turmeric. Probably because I had made cutlets this morning?

Anyway, my nails emerged super clean, were soft-towelled after a hot pampering bubble bath and then placed under a magnifying glass. I quickly volunteered information, before she diagnosed a rare liver disease, noting the ragged and uneven nail edges: “I bite them sometimes…”

Well, what can I say, I love watching horror films. They also prepare me emotionally for the horror of the final bill.

So while I continue to cream and lotion and potion myself to fight age, I would to like to share some sound advice to women on the most natural way to youth and beauty: the best way to look younger is not to be born so soon.


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